The Flying Deuces, also known as Flying Aces, is a 1939 comedy film starring Laurel and Hardy, in which the duo join the French Foreign Legion. It is a partial remake of their 1931 short film Beau Hunks.
While the boys are working in the fish market in Paris, Ollie falls in love with Georgette (Jean Parker), the beautiful daughter of an innkeeper. She turns down his marriage proposal because she is married to a Foreign Legion officer named Francois (Reginald Gardiner). Heartbroken, Ollie contemplates suicide. He is joined by his friend Stan in sinking himself into a river. (In some versions this proceeding is complicated by the presence of an “escaped shark”.) Stan repeatedly interrupts Ollie as he is about to throw the weight in, and asks him to consider the possibility of reincarnation. Ollie decides his preference is to be reincarnated as a horse. Francois catches sight of them and convinces them to enlist in the Foreign Legion in order to forget Ollie’s failed romance. When Stan asks how long it will take Ollie to forget, Francois says it will only take a matter of a few days.
The commandant (Charles B. Middleton) introduces Ollie and Stan to their daily legionnaire duties, for which their daily wage is 100 centimes, which, translated into American currency amounts to only three cents. Ollie and Stan attempt to negotiate for a higher wage. For this uppity attitude they are sentenced to menial labor, washing and ironing a mountain of laundry, with legion officers constantly on their backs. Finally and ‘miraculously’, Ollie forgets his broken romance completely. His and Stan’s purpose in joining the Foreign Legion fulfilled, they abandon their task, discarding the still hot iron, which unintentionally sets the laundry pile aflame. Angered by the hard work and low pay of the Foreign Legion, Ollie writes the commander an insulting farewell letter and signs it.
They meet Georgette again. Ollie, delighted that she has seemingly changed her mind and come back to him, proceeds to embrace and kiss her. Francois arrives, informs him that Georgette is his wife and warns him to stay away from her. After Francois leaves, the commandant appears and, having discovered their farewell note and the mountain of burning laundry, pronounces them under arrest for desertion. They are taken to the prison, locked up and sentenced to be shot at dawn. Stan amazes Ollie by playing “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise” on the bedsprings. As he is about to play another piece, the jailor yells at them to be quiet. Later in the evening, someone throws a note that says they can escape by means of a tunnel leading from their cell to the outside wall. Stan brings on an accidental cave-in which causes the underground path to lead to Francois and Georgette’s dwelling. The whole legion engages in hot pursuit of the boys, who flee to a nearby hangar and hide out in an airplane, which Stan accidentally starts up. The boys fly it until it crashes. Stan emerges unharmed from the crash, but Ollie has died, seen ascending into Heaven. However, Stan later bumps into Ollie, reincarnated as a horse in accordance with the wish he expressed during his aborted suicide attempt. Stan is elated to find his friend alive, but Ollie grumpily remarks, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”
Stan Laurel as Stan
Oliver Hardy as Ollie
Jean Parker as Georgette
Reginald Gardiner as François
Charles B. Middleton as the Legion Commandant
Jean Del Val as Sergeant
Clem Wilenchick as Corporal
Jimmy Finlayson as Jailer